Ferrisburgh Town Meeting Preview 2019

FERRISBURGH — Financial decisions await Ferrisburgh residents at their annual town meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 2, and in voting booths at their Route 7 town office building from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Elections will not be contested: Office-seekers have a clear path to election in March, but there will be a new face on the Ferrisburgh selectboard after Steve Gutowski decided to step down after almost six years on the board and roughly three decades serving the town.
Clark Hinsdale III, a former Charlotte selectman and Vermont Farm Bureau president, is running unopposed to take Gutowski’s place on the board.
Incumbent Selectman Jim Benoit and Addison Northwest School District board member George Gardner are also unopposed on the ballot.
The selectboard proposed a town budget of roughly $2.065 million, one that crests $2 million for the first time.
It includes $30,000 more collectively for the Ferrisburgh and Vergennes fire departments and the Vergennes Area Rescue Service. 
The proposed highway department budget is also up by about $70,000, including increases for paving, wages, diesel fuel, sand and salt, and equipment maintenance.
The board also placed a separate article on the warning asking for $70,000 for a truck with plow and sander attachments, to be paid off over five years.
Coupled with slightly higher requests for nonprofit donations, final town spending could reach about $2.1 million. Ferrisburgh officials estimate approval of all the spending measures on that Saturday would add almost 2 cents to the municipal portion of the Ferrisburgh tax rate, which this year stands at 29.52 cents.
Residents in Ferrisburgh and the other four Addison Northwest School District communities on Town Meeting Day will also vote on a spending plan of $22,139,341 to fund operations of the four ANWSD schools and the district’s share of the Hannaford Career Center budget.
After a year of level funding, that budget would increase spending by about $1.03 million, or about 4.7 percent.
School officials estimated in four of the five communities — including Ferrisburgh — school tax rates might rise by about 9 cents, but said that number could move up or down depending on decisions made in Montpelier and the final number of ANWSD students enrolled.
Declining enrollment and rising costs are driving the tax rate higher. School administrators said increases are being driven by the cost of health benefits rising by 11.8 percent, salaries for teachers and support staff that expected to rise once ongoing negotiations for new contracts conclude, and transportation costs going up by 13 percent.

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